After having to answer many of the same questions over and over again I finally decided to try to sit down and write down some basic info on the choices of the polearmer.
This info was gained from many sources and I will try to make it as complete as I can. Much of this info can be credited to posts and talks with other active polearmers of all sorts. Please keep in mind that there are many different opinions about some of these points. I will do my best to present it completely and objectively.
Here we go!
In choosing the path of the polearmer you have decided to go on one of the less traveled paths in the Lands. Like every choice it has its good points and its bad ones. I'll try to address some of those below.
First off you will need to decide what type of polearmer will you be. Are you going to be a heavy hitter using that lance or are you going to try to be a fast swinger who uses many different types? There are many shades of polearmer in between but the reason you need a plan from the outset is that your race has a big impact.
If you ever want to be able to swing that lance at a 5 RT you will need to choose one of the quicker races. If you just want to hit hard you may want to be a giantman for the extra power. The quicker races will have a slightly better DS but also suffer from having less blood/health.
Not going to say much here since this will be highly dependent on the race, what type of growth you are looking for, and what fighting style you prefer. Three of the most important to keep in mind for any polearmer though are STR, DEX, and AGI.
Strength is important in the end because you are going to want to hit hard. It doesn't NEED to be really high in the beginning but you will want it to be able to grow decently if you are a weapon swinger.
Dexterity and Agility are important because they affect that ever important swing RT. Agility of course also affects your DS, which suffers greatly without that shield. If you want to swing fast early on you will need higher stats here. Otherwise look at your race and growth characteristics and put them where you feel comfortable with them. I would still give them decent numbers to start regardless of race though. (For instance, even though I am a dark elf I started both my DEX and AGI at 60.) I've listed the breakpoints and Max RT reduction for each race below.
0-7 AGI/DEX bonus = -0
8-22 AGI/DEX bonus = -1
23-37 AGI/DEX bonus = -2
38-52 AGI/DEX bonus = -3
53-67 AGI/DEX bonus = -4
68-75 AGI/DEX bonus = -5
Giantman 40 -3rt
Dwarf 45 -3rt
Erithian 50 -3rt
Human 50 -3rt
Half-Krolvin 55 -4rt
Half-elf 65 -4rt
Dark elf 65 -4rt
Sylvan 65 -4rt
Aelotoi 65 -4rt
Forest gnome 65 -4rt
Burghal gnome 70 -5rt
Elf 70 -5rt
Halfling 75 -5rt
One of the good things about the new character manager is that you can tailor your STATS better to your choices, race, and profession.
Again not much to say here. Each profession has its own strengths and weaknesses. The most common polearmers were warriors and bards due to the lower training costs for polearm training. You will however find that there are polearm users in most if not all classes. I have seen wizard, cleric, and empath polearm users that do well due to their spell capability.
I personally wouldn't recommend trying a polearmer with one of the "pure" spellcasting classes unless you really know that profession well and can use their spells effectively. (For the purpose of this discussion I am calling wizards, sorcerers, empaths and clerics pures, since they can only train in a weapon skill once per train, but 3 times in spells.)
WARNING: If you have never played a two-handed weapon user in the lands you are in for a shock. The lower DS against missiles and bolt attacks without a shield can take a lot of getting used to. Generally you have to be very picky about what type of creatures you hunt. Much more than a OHE or OHB and shield user. OHP and shield is an option as well but is generally only used by the spellcasting polearmers on a regular basis.
The general power of two-handed polearms but lack of defense means that you are often best off hitting as hard as you can to take the creatures out quickly. This is one of the reasons that many polearmers choose to use the lance, which is the most powerful weapon in many cases. The awl-pike should not be forgotten though, since it is a bit lighter and actually hits better against some armor types.
I however am from another train of thought in the polearm ranks. Personally I try to choose the weapon that will best serve my purposes at the time and will still let me swing quickly. I feel more comfortable getting back into defensive stance quicker since I tend to hunt alone. Sure that lance might hit harder but it doesn't do me a lick of good if I'm standing there in offensive for a few extra seconds when another creature walks in the room.
One of the advantages of polearms is we have a wide selection of weapons that will give us good capabilities against any opponent. We even have the option or the OHP/shield combo, though for most this is really only very useful for rescues; running through areas where there are bolt casters and missile users; or wandering in unfamiliar areas.
THP- Advantages - good damage dealt in general, automatic DS bonus when in right hand with left hand empty (the bonus has changed from GSIII and seems to actually be higher, I have no hard numbers on the amount now as it may contain variables in the formula), 50% parry bonus (I have not tried to confirm this), TRIP capability. Disadvantages - heavier weapons are slow, low DS vs. bolts and missile attacks, you get no ambush bonus from hiding with a THP (when you hide and ambush with two handed polearms, you'll just come out of hiding and aim your shot).
NOTE: Trying to use a shield with a THP will greatly reduce both your AS and DS though you will have a slightly better DS vs. missile and bolt spells.
Halberd/polearm base - this is our general weapon category and is decent overall but a little weak against heavier armors. Base RT is 6.
Naginatas - these have been changed. Naginatas had their base updated. They lost their natural +20 attack strength bonus. Instead a +20 bonus has been added to the AvD of the weapons. Naginatas that have been built on the naginata base will receive this update automatically. Some older weapons are modified halberds. Players will have the option to update the halberd based weapons or leave them as they are. To see if your naginata is old style or new, INSPECT it. On a good note, the new style naginatas are fully enchantable now ... so having a 7x naginata would be the equivalent of an 11x halberd for striking (due to the AvD bonus).
Hammer of Kai - heavier, slower weapon but a good all around one. DF and AvD is better than the polearm base. Base RT is 7. Very few people have ever used these and most don't realize that they do still puncture occasionally. The name is a bit decieving but if you think of most polearms as a combination of blade/spike/blunt surface on the end of a pole, that is what you are seeing here. Good overall weapon for DF and AvD. A bit better against heavier armors.
Jeddart-axe - Again a heavier, slower weapon. THIS IS THE ONLY POLEARM THAT NEVER PUNCTURES. Base RT is 7. Good overall weapon.
Awl-pike - One of the heavy hitters here. Low AvD against unarmored critters though, This weapon is lighter than a lance and is actually better than the lance vs. certain heavier armors. Base RT is 9.
Lance - The overall big hitter of the polearms. Slow and heavy but boy do they hurt. Base RT is 9.
OHP - I have very little experience with them but I will make some comments on them. Advantages - that you can use the shield and can ambush from hiding with them (javelin and pilum base). Disadvantage - They hit much lighter than the other polearms. You cannot trip with an OHP. Javelin is base RT 4, pilum has been lowered to base RT 3.
- As I mentioned earlier most people do not hunt using the OHP/shield combo. When compared to the two-handed polearms they have lousy DF and AvD against anything higher than leather armor.
GRIPPABLE Polearms - There are now certain polearms that can be used either one or two handed. TRIDENTS and SPEARS can be used via the GRIP verb, allowing them more versatility. The DF factor does change depending on whether one of these weapons is GRIPped in one or two hands. This is a new and welcome addition to the polearm versatility. They have the same advantages/disadvantages as the other weapons depending on which way they are being utilized. Base RT is 5.
- Training in shield is entirely optional. By choosing your hunting areas well you can negate the need for shield training though you may have some difficulty travelling through some areas and during invasions and such. After the mid-40's it becomes progressively harder to do this, due to creatures being mixed in among each other more often (so you will generally find casters in most areas).
NOTE: All THP with the exception of the jeddart-axe do some combo of puncture/slash/crush damage. The percentages vary but they are always there. I haven't tested any OHP but I expect it is the same for them, though you may find that they are heavily geared towards puncture attacks.
Some factors seem to be size/encumbrance of target, level difference between polearmer and target, STR of polearmer, DEF/AGI/mobility of target, polearm skill (though it doesn't seem to make much difference), and who knows what else. These are all just educated guesses on my part and going on info from other polearmers.
TRIP has been converted to the CML system, resulting in the application of the standard CML roll and stamina costs to TRIP. The success rate of the skill can be improved by spending CMP on it. All players with at least 15 ranks in the relevant weapon skill will continue to have the ability to trip without having to spend CMP. The stamina cost for this version of trip will be 10 and possesses success rates similar to or better than were previously available for the skill (though slightly lower than CML Rank 1).
Skill Name: Trip
Stamina Cost: Base 15 (-5 Rank 1, -5 Rank 2, -3 Rank 3).
Other Requirements: A two-handed polearm or staff with at least 15 ranks in the relevant skill.
Training in Polearms (for polearms) or Two-Handed Weapons (for staves) is recommended.
Available to: All.
CMP Cost: Squares Semis Pures
Rank 1: 2 3 4
Rank 2: 4 6 8
Rank 3: 6 9 12
Rank 4: 8 12 16
Rank 5: 10 15 20
Description: Attempt to trip your opponent with a polearm or staff. Successful trip attempts can result in your opponent suffering a Roundtime penalty, minor leg damage, and possibly being knocked down.
The TRIP attempt is now also considered an ATTACK for flaring weapons, meaning as long as you get some sort of success with the attempt ... the weapon can flare. I have flare killed many times, even on TRIP attempts that did not put the creature on the ground.
Below are listed the results that I have seen. I have never seen a 15 pt hit on the TRIP attempt that stunned the creature. This was a rare happening under the original implementation in GSIII. I do not know if it is still possible.
- Trip fails miserably, hit yourself in the foot, leaves you hobbling about in excruciating pain: Roll Result < -100(?), no flare
- Creature avoids the stroke, weapon flies harmlessly aside: Roll Result <100, no flare
- 1 pt, Half-hearted attempt does little to unbalance, glancing blow: Roll Result 101-109, flares
- 1 pt, Lucky strike, totally off balance, glancing blow: Roll Result 110-124, flares
- 7 pt, Quick strike, stumbling to the ground, torn muscle: Roll Result 126-148, flares
- 7 pt, feet swept roughly from under it, torn muscle: Roll Result 150-302, flares
- 10 pt, Quick strike, stumbling to the ground, smash to the kneecap: Roll Result 125-193, flares
- 10 pt, feet swept roughly from under it, torn muscle: Roll Result 151-205, flares
- 10 pt, feet swept roughly from under it, smash to the kneecap: Roll Result 158-257, flares
- 10 pt, quick strike, stumbling to the ground, torn muscle: Roll Result 128, flares
As you can see, the lower end roll results are predictable. Once you get past the 125 and 150 marks the results are more random.
Note: encumbrance adds to penalty for trip attempt, including being undertrained for your armor.
The time the creature is in RT seemed to vary a good deal, 1-10 seconds at least.
One more thing, TRIP can be done from any stance. However, your stance affects your chances of success. I'd recommend playing about a bit and finding a stance that gives you a reasonable amount of success OR if you hunt slower moving creatures and don't mind the risk, just go for it in offensive. I believe this still holds true since the implementation of CMAN TRIP, but I have not tested it extensively.
CHARGE is another CMAN skill that applies to polearms. I have not used it myself, but others seem to favor it.
Skill Name: Charge
Stamina Cost: Base 20 (-5 Rank 1, -3 Rank 2)
Other Requirements: Charge requires a polearm (and left hand for two-handed poles) that is a puncturing weapon.
Available to: Warriors, Bards, Monks, Paladins.
CMP Cost Squares Semis
Rank 1 2 3
Rank 2 4 6
Rank 3 6 9
Rank 4 8 12
Rank 5 10 15
Description: Charge can be used with most polearms to damage and knock down an opponent. In some cases, it can stun your opponent and/or force them to lower stance. Poor attempts may have adverse effects on the attacker.
Damage Factors for Polearms
Polearm skin leather scale chain plate
Halberd .550 .400 .400 .300 .200
Spear (1H) .425 .325 .250 .250 .160
Spear (2H) .550 .385 .340 .325 .220
Lance .725 .525 .550 .475 .350
Javelin .425 .325 .250 .250 .160
Awl-pike .600 .550 .575 .450 .350
Jeddart-axe .550 .425 .425 .325 .250
Pilum .350 .250 .225 .175 .060
Hammer of Kai .550 .425 .450 .350 .250
Trident (1H) .425 .350 .260 .230 .150
Trident (2H) .600 .425 .375 .300 .185
Naginata??? (should be the same as polearm)
Well, I think that about does it. If there is anything you think I missed or messed up on let me know. I really want to make this info as accurate as I can. I didn't get into the profession aspect much because I am a bard and don't have any experience as a polearmer of another class.
IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE A BARD POLEARMER...
Well, first thing you will probably notice about bards is the high cost for us to train in core skills compared to other weapon swingers.
So...with the costs in mind you will need to decide if you are going for pure combat or are you going to try to get some secondary skills too.
Basic training for life (I think) should be 1x ARMOR, 1x CM, 2x POLEARM, 1x DODGE, 1x HARNESS POWER, and 1x SPELL. That's 31/34 before you even start on other things. You will of course want to get PT in early up to your max or close to it. You will need to work in SWIM and CLIMB to get places later on. MOC is a good thing and I strongly recommend you get at least a little bit of it in, unless you choose to go for the double strike at a single creature (like me). All the other skills are all personal choices. All have their uses but these are generally the skills that a bard ends up deciding they can live without due to training costs (or at least not as much as they would like).
AMBUSH and HIDE are also there to consider but remember some things:
- two-handed polearms receive NO ambush bonus to their attack when ambushing from hiding (the ambush ranks can still help in open aiming though)
- song renewal (at least at present) automatically brings you out of hiding, so you may get a bit annoyed when you get pulled from hiding unless you care to watch that clock for your renewal time. You can also keep checking your SING/SONG STATUS. It was definitely a good addition to GS, but I find it easier to keep a song timer running.
One of the main advantages of the bard as a hunter is that we can generate a high AS. This is due to our spells. Many bards used to double in CM as soon as it was feasible for them. This is totally a character choice. If you don't mind sacrificing some secondary skills, it can definitely make a difference. The same can be said for doubling in ARMOR or SHIELD. I believe that these practices have all but disappeared with the shift to GSIV. Most would rather put those points into DODGE or something else. Our high song hindrance in armor can be a pain but heavier armors can make a big difference. Most bards will train to wear brigandine, but we can go as high as Augmented Chain without our penalties becoming ridiculous.
I'm not going to get into stat placement since there are always plenty of people to answer those questions as well as some good sites (like Amerlise's where she has the statchecker or the Lost Ranger's site). These are old sites and the best source right now is probably Tsoran's Trainer Spreadsheet.
Which spell path to take is an important factor too. There are all sorts of choices to make in regards to that. I personally went all the way to 1020 before starting to learn MinE, since I wanted to be able to have a chance of being able to rescue people. (Being a dark elf with a mediocre strength when I started means I can't drag much.) Most people would be better off going to 1011 then over to MinE to at least 406 or vice versa. The reason I recommend going to 1011 is that Song Of Peace can save you if you get in a spot of trouble or it can let you help a fallen or stunned comrade. After that its pretty much your preference.
MinE has some really good spells but we also have Eonak's Song and Song of Mirrors, as well as some new songs in the works. These are just my opinions of course so do a little research and find the path that suits you.
Quick note on Sonic Weapon. Its NICE! Some DISARM attacks fail against the sonic weapon and if you learn Air Lore you will get a good chance of extra flares. I see them pretty often. Also, sonic weapon is now effective vs. undead (no flares and only +10 but its still nice).
The polearm choices for Sonic Weapon (1012) are awl-pike, halberd, hammer of Kai, jeddart axe, lance, pilum, javelin, and spear. You can sing up some of the lesser used names as well (like a glaive for a halberd). For some of the rare names you need to be holding a "real" item of the same name in your off hand while you are trying to sing it up I believe.
Singing Weapon can be fun too. We can choose either a halberd or a jeddart-axe. The formula for the 1025 AS is:(Songs-25)/2 + Weapon Skill + (CM ranks)/2 + (ML:M ranks)/2 + (INF bonus + AUR bonus)/2 + 25 = Song 1025 AS
Luck song has an affect on your TRIP attempts. I have seen it kick in on rare occasions.
That's all I'm going to talk about for now. I think I pretty much covered all the general concerns. Let me know if there is anything else you need and I will try to answer it for you.